FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Take Courage

with Dennis Rainey | March 7, 2011
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It takes courage to lead today. All this week, Dennis Rainey calls men to courageously step up and be the husbands, fathers, and mentors Christ has called and equipped them to be. Dennis walks listeners through the five steps of a man's life, beginning with boyhood and ending with patriarch.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • It takes courage to lead today. All this week, Dennis Rainey calls men to courageously step up and be the husbands, fathers, and mentors Christ has called and equipped them to be. Dennis walks listeners through the five steps of a man's life, beginning with boyhood and ending with patriarch.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

It takes courage to lead today.

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Take Courage

With Dennis Rainey
March 07, 2011
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Bob:   Dennis Rainey says there is a call going out to men all over the world—a call to be men—to be courageous.

Dennis:  A call to courageous manhood is all about calling men to pound their chest and say, “You know what—I refuse to do nothing about the evil that is destroying my marriage, my children, my family, and my grandchildren.  I want to do something as a man.”

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 7th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine.  Today we are looking at what the Bible has to say about what God has in mind for men being men. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  Is it okay for women to listen to what we are going to talk about?

Dennis:  Oh, absolutely.  Oh, sure.  In fact, Barbara gives a message to women called “Helping Your Man Step Up to Real Manhood.”

Bob:  I know, but you are going to be talking to the guys for the most part this week.  This is kind of man-to-man, from-your-heart, kind of stuff.  It is alright for the women to listen?

Dennis:  Kind of?  [laughter]   I think it is going to be very instructive to single women, married women, moms who are raising boys, grandmothers, and obviously to single men, husbands, dads, and grandfathers as well.  We are just going to talk heart-to-heart for the need for courageous manhood today and for men to step up and really take on the mantel of true godly male leadership. 

Bob:  This is something you have been chewing on for quite some time.

Dennis:  That is a nice way to put it, Bob.  [laughter]  Chewing on it.  I have tried to write this book four times in the last ten years—actually 12 years.  I have run across notes that I have had that are like fossilized relics.  [laughter] 

I have been interrupted by health issues in our family; family crises when one of our children wasn’t doing well; Barbara had a health issue; and, of course, the recession back in 2008 and 2009—that took me off the book as I really scrambled here at FamilyLife to make sure we operated in the black, which by the grace of God we did.

All o f those things took me off task, Bob; but I am glad in a way because I believe what we have come up with here will be a tool that we place in the hands of men and women, for that matter, that is going to help them be more effective in taking on the mantel of male leadership.

Bob:  This is your new book called Stepping Up.  I think it is interesting—when you look at what the Bible has to say about being a man, there is a link to the idea of courage.  That is what you have tapped into in this book.

 Dennis:  Right, Bob.  I believe, as never before, men are under attack today.  More than 60 percent of college students today are women.  I don’t think it is safe to be a man on many occasions. 

There was an article back last January in the Wall Street Journal.  It was entitled, “Eek! A Male!”  It was an article that talked about a man in Massachusetts who saw some smoke coming from a van.  He rushed in; and as he was rescuing two small children before the van went up in smoke, the grandmother almost punched his lights out because she thought he was going to kidnap the kids.  It is assumed almost that men are predators.  We assume the worst about them. 

The article went on to say that a guy in England didn’t stop and pick up a toddler beside the road because he was afraid he would be accused of being a child molester or a kidnapper of the child.  He drove on, and the toddler ended up walking off into a pond and drowned. 

Bob:  Certainly there are men in the culture who are predatory and who do commit the kind of acts that raise the concern, but what I hear you saying is that that has had a chilling effect on men being what God has called men to be.

Dennis:  Right.  I think for men to step up and truly lead today, it takes courage as never before.  Last night, Barbara and I were watching a series.  In fact, you loaned us this series about John Adams, the second president of the United States.  Barbara has already read the book by David McCullough.  I just look at the sheer size of that book, and it frightens me. 

Bob:  You say, “I’ll watch the TV series.”

Dennis:  I’ll watch the series!  [laughter]  At the end of the first session, I turned to Barbara and I was just commenting on John Adams and his courage.  I told her, “You know what, we know very little today as men about that kind of courage that our Founding Fathers had in establishing this nation.  They put their lives on the line to gain America’s freedom.” 

I think we need a fresh vision of what it means to be a man and to step up and protect our wives, our families, our communities, our culture, and our nation from the evil that preys upon them.  I think today—I think it is going to call upon that kind of courage that our Founding Fathers had more than 250 years ago.

Bob:  Do you think men today are inhibited culturally?  They back off from courage because the culture doesn’t reward it?  Do you think it is their passivity that is kicking in?  Why aren’t men stepping up to courageous manhood?

Dennis:  If you look at Joshua 1, God commanded through Joshua, He commanded the nation of Israel, and specifically the men.  He said, “Be courageous.  Don’t be afraid.”  He said it four times.  You kind of wonder if the nation of Israel needed courage in the face of fear.  Why would God command it four times? 

I think there is something within all of us which tends toward cowardice—toward passivity—toward backing away from confronting our fears and moving through them and doing something about them.  For instance, the other day, Barbara and I were in New York City.  We were doing some shopping in a French store, which was an unusual store.  It has all kinds of gadgets for the kitchen and for families.  It really had some fun stuff for $10, $20. 

We were looking in it, and there were two books that had an obscene word on the cover of the book.  It is, in my opinion, the most vulgar term you could put on the cover of a book.  There were two books there.  I am going, “What is with that in this classy store?”  I thought, “Nah, don’t do it.  Don’t even go there.  Why mess with it?  Just walk on out.” 

We were going to buy a couple of bibs for our twin grandchildren.  Barbara came up with them; and I said, “Nah, put them back.  We will just leave.”  We started to leave, and I looked over at the cash register.  I thought, “That guy is probably the owner.  Nah, I don’t want to talk to him!”  I walked on out. 

There was a guy standing by the door.  I said, “Is the owner here?”  He said, “Yes.  That is him over by the cash register.”  I thought, “I got to go say something.”  I walked back over; and I said, “Hi, I’m Dennis.  I almost purchased a couple of things here.  I really like your store; but I have to tell you, those two books you have over there—that you have at eye-level for little kids to take a look at—I just watched a young mom take a look at it and turn away in disgust—those two books have no place in a classy store like this.”  He said, “I am really glad you said something.  There has been a debate among all the people who work here—our sales force—about those books.  Some of them say they should be here, and some of them say they shouldn’t.” 

I said, “You know, I just want you to know it seems like our culture continues to spin out of control.  The easiest thing for me to have done would have been to have said nothing.  I just want to tell you, I am offended by it.  I think you have a better store than that.”  I shook his hand, thanked him, and left. 

I think in those situations, Bob, the easiest thing for us to do is assume we are not going to make a difference.  What is it going to matter that I push back against an owner of a French store in Grand Central Station, of all places in the world—Manhattan?  What difference is it going to make? 

You know what, if enough of us think that way—enough men assume that our actions are meaningless against pushing back against evil mean nothing, then what happens to a nation?  It gets overrun by the evil that we were designed by God to conquer.  I believe the theme of this book, Stepping Up:  A Call to Courageous Manhood, is all about calling men to pound their chest and to say, “You know what—I refuse to do nothing about the evil that is destroying my marriage, my children, my family, and my grandchildren.  I going to do something as a man.” 

Frankly, Bob, this is not a book that is designed to beat up men.  There are enough of those out there already.  This is a book that is designed to call men up—to encourage them to step up—to encourage them at a point to kneel down—to kneel down before the cross and ask God to help them be the man that they need to be in all the realms and all the responsibilities they have in life. 

Bob:  Give me a definition of courage.  Can you do that?  How do I understand what courage looks like biblically? 

Dennis:  Courage is doing your duty in the face of fear.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have fear.  In fact, one of my favorite questions to ask at a dinner table—I think you have probably been at a few meals...

Bob:  I have been the victim of this question before, yes. 

Dennis:  You get at a table that is a round table that has four or five couples at it or ten people at your table.  You hate to bore one another with yourselves.  Life is too short.  Let’s cut to the chase.  Let’s talk about some stuff with meaning, you know?  I like to ask the question, “What is the most courageous thing you have ever done in all of your life?”

It has been interesting in how people have answered it.  People have talked about a decision at work—to push back against deceptive practices where it could have cost them their jobs—maybe stepping away from their existing job and pursuing a dream.  Others have protected unborn life and placed a child with adoptive parents. 

I have heard young men answer this question, talking about stepping up and away from pornography; but the most frequent answer to the question, “What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?” usually involves the person’s father—where they stepped up and took another job and didn’t work for the family company. 

Recently, I was at a dinner table; and a man said, “It was my decision to not go to work for my father but to go to college.  I was the first person in our family to go to college.”  There is something about our parents.  Standing up to our parents and taking a stand for what we believe God wants us to do—that calls upon bedrock of courage from a man’s life.

Bob:  And to not do that disrespectfully—to do it in the context of honor.  There is something about declaring yourself a grownup.  When you stand up to your mom or your dad and say, “This is where I am going.”  You are really saying, “I can navigate life apart from your guiding me.”

Dennis:  I actually think it is a form of a rite of passage, as you have said, to adulthood where we take a stand and we go, “You know what, I am my own person.  God has a plan for me.  I am fulfilling that plan.  I will honor you, but I am going to be obedient to the God who has called me to do this thing.”

Bob:  I was, I think, in the room when you first took on this subject.  I don’t know if you had given a message calling men to step up before, but I was there one day when you had a heart-to-heart with men and called them to engage.

Dennis:  There were a group of men, Bob, and you remember the meeting—good men behaving, not badly, but pitifully.  They just weren’t being men.  I kind of pulled off to the side and did a little study of the Scripture and put together a message where I talked about how every man must step up through five steps. 

He first becomes a boy—that is the first step.  Out of boyhood he steps up to adolescence and he begins to assume responsibility.  Then, at the point he turns his back on childhood and childish things, he steps up to manhood and he assumes responsibility before God to protect other people—perhaps take on a wife, be a father, moving on through life—assuming responsibility to be a courageous man. 

I went on to talk about the other two steps of being a mentor and the final step of that of a patriarch.  It just so happened that as I was giving this message—you remember—you were there—behind me was a platform and a stage that had five steps up to the stage. 

I really hadn’t thought about calling men to step up; but as I gave the message and talked about stepping from boyhood to adolescence, from adolescence to manhood, to mentor and then to patriarch, I literally gave the message standing on each of those five steps.  I called those men to step up and away from boyhood and adolescence and turn their backs on irresponsibility and to be courageous men—courageous followers of Christ and not just behave pitifully. 


Bob:  What I remember, is you standing with one foot on the second step and another foot on the third step—straddling and saying, “Too many of us have a foot in adolescence and a foot in manhood.  We keep going back and forth, and we never fully step up and say, ‘Goodbye’ to childish things as 1 Corinthians 13 instructs us to do.”

Dennis:  That is right.  We are facing sideways on the steps rather than turning around and turning away from the childish things—facing upward to the steps of, not merely manhood, but standing on that step of manhood and facing up to being a mentor and a patriarch.  As a result, I think what happens is—I think men are losing their direction today.  They don’t know what is next.  They don’t know what God has for them. 

That has been part of the fun in putting this book together.  It is really thinking about how to craft this in such a way to equip men to be better men, to be effective mentors, and then that last step of being a patriarch.  I am telling you, it is really interesting when you talk to a group of men. 

They come alive when you start talking about—that instead of old age sapping our lives and taking life away from us—instead, God has a magnificent noble step for every man to stand on at the end of his life, if God gives him length of days, to make an impact, not only on his family, but also his community.  I think, for a few select men who are national leaders, upon our nation.

Bob:  It is interesting to see the lines converge, too; because as you are coming out with this book, our friends at Sherwood Baptist Church, Alex and Stephen Kendrick and the team there, are putting the finishing touches on the film that will come out in the fall called Courageous.  It really touches on many of the same themes—calling men to be godly men—to step up.

Dennis:  I think God is up to something.  I think He is bringing the theme of courage to the entire church, but I think specifically to men today because this culture—I am going to tell you something—it is going to demand that men look fear in the eyes and say, “You know what, you are not going to rob me of being a man.   I am going to protect my own integrity, my marriage, my family, my grandchildren, and my community against evil.  I am going to step up and I am going to push back.”

It is going to demand courage at a whole new level.  Daniel 11:32 says, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”  I think it is a picture of what courage is all about.  I think courage is built as we know who God is and we know that we represent Him.  Secondly, as we take action—as we refuse to do nothing—as we step out in faith and make a difference. 

Back after 9-11, Peggy Noonan wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal.  It described masculinity in fresh terms.  I want to remind our listeners of those days.  Also, capture a picture that she is talking about as she is talking about real manhood. 

She writes, “A certain style of manliness is once again being honored and celebrated in our country since 9/11.  I am speaking of masculine men, men who push things and pull things, and haul things and build things, men who charge up the stairs in 100-pounds of gear and tell everyone else where to go to be safe.  Men who are welders and who do construction.  Men who are cops and firemen.  They are, all of them, one way or another, the men who put the fire out.  The men who are digging the rubble out and the men who will build whatever takes its place.  Their style is back in style. 

“We are experiencing a new respect for their old-fashioned masculinity.  A new respect for physical courage, for strength, and for the willingness to use both for the good of others.  You didn’t have to be a fireman to be one of those manly men on

September 11.  Those businessmen on Flight 93—you know, the one that was supposed to hit Washington—the businessmen who didn’t live by their hands or by their backs but who found out what was happening to their country, said, ‘Goodbye’ to the people they loved, snapped their cell phones shut, and said, ‘Let’s roll.’  These were tough men, the men who forced that plane down in Pennsylvania.  They were tough, brave guys.”

Bob, today, what is needed is for men to take on, I think, a new form of self-denial—of abandonment to self and serving their God and in submitting to Him—to say to their loved ones, “My life for yours.  My life for the next generation.” 

If we don’t, I fear what is supposed to be the Christian family, what is supposed to be the Christian community of faith—the church—both will be rendered ineffective because men have not been men.  It is a call for men to step up and give their lives.

I love what Elisabeth Elliot writes.  She says, “A man’s willingness to offer up his life for his wife or for anybody else who happens to need him is not the end of everything.  It is only the end of himself.  He who is fully a man has relinquished his right to himself.” 

I think that is the call of the cross.  If you want to step up, you have to kneel down before the cross of Christ and ask God to make you “the man.

Bob:  I think in what we have talked about here today and what you talk about in this book—I think you are tapping into something that is stamped on the soul of every man.  It resonates in his heart when he hears it, but the flesh rebels against it.  The culture doesn’t promote it, and so men often shrink back.  That is one of the reasons we are so excited that the book is now available and hoping a lot of men will read it. 

In fact, this week, we are making this book available to any of our listeners who would like to get a copy.  We are just asking you to make a donation to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  When you do, we want you to feel free to request a copy of Dennis’ new book called Stepping Up:  A Call to Courageous Manhood

You can go online and make a donation at  When you do, type the word, “STEPUP”—altogether as one word.  Type that in the key code box on the online donation form, or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  You can make a donation over the phone.    Again, it is 1-800-“F” as in Family; “L” as in Life; and then the word “TODAY.”

When you make your donation, just ask for a copy of the book, Stepping Up:  A Call to Courageous Manhood.  I should probably let folks know that right now the book is only available here at FamilyLife.  It is not in bookstores, or on Amazon, or really anywhere else.  If you want to get a copy, either go online at or call 1-800-“F” as in Family; “L” as in Life; and then the word, “TODAY.”  Make a donation to support the ministry and request a copy and we will get it sent to you.

Now tomorrow we want to talk about the first step on the road to manhood.  We are going to talk about what we can do to help boys get pointed in the right direction, even in the years when they are boys so they can grow up to be godly, courageous men.  We will talk about that tomorrow.  Hope you can be with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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